ELON Musk’s cherry red Tesla that he blasted into space five years ago is on course to return to Earth – and there could be big plans for it when it gets back.
The world’s second richest man – who has a networth of nearly $200billion – strapped his roadster to a rocket and blasted it into space roadster into space almost exactly five years ago.
Elon Musk will be 76 when Starman comes home[/caption]
It was a test launch of his new rocket ship, the Falcon Heavy – which the Twitter owner dreams will one day take humans to Mars.
But all the headlines were around the Tesla, piloted by a dummy in a space suit known as “Starman” .
He flew into space with David Bowie’s hit Space Oddity blaring on a continuous loop.
And when you look up to the stars at night, Starman and the roadster are still out there – but where are they now?
Ben Pearson runs the website www.WhereisRoadster.com – which is dedicated to tracking the Tesla – and he believes it will be close enough to return to earth in the next 25 years.
And he believes SpaceX may launch a mission to bring the historic car back home.
Scooping up what data is available, Ben has been able to calculate the route of the roadster, its speed, and provide a rough estimation of where it is now.
He has been updating the platform with new information for over half a decade, analysing the NASA data and keeping SpaceX enthusiasts in the loop.
It estimates that Starman has completed 3.3 orbits of the Sun since it launched – and is currently around 200million miles from Earth.
And by his estimations, the roadster has travelled 2.5billion miles in total at speeds of around 13,000mph.
Space Oddity will have played more than 500,000 times on a loop – and the car has exceeded its 36,000 mile warranty nearly 71,000 times.
The Tesla however is heading back towards home.
“I think that in 2047, it’s going to pass close to Earth, and it’s going to pass close to earth again in 2049,” Mr Pearson told The Sun Online.
“And I think that we’re going to send up a mission the first time, docked with a spacecraft, and then bring it back home, possibly in the Starship vehicle or something similar that SpaceX is building.”
He also downplayed the risk of the space car crashing into Earth, pointing out that the car and dummy would likely burn up like a normal asteroid – which he added happens more frequently than you might think.
However, the aerospace expert reassured that this is unlikely to happen in the next 100 years.
“A lot of people have been concerned about another big piece of space junk that’s out there,” said Ben.
“But the space junk that’s of more concern is the stuff that’s much much closer to Earth – this is like another asteroid, essentially, there’s millions of them out there”.
The engineer said that whereisroadster.com is the most popular website he’s ever created with more than 25,000 visits on the day it went live.
“I had been excited to see the Falcon Heavy launch for the first time,” he told The Sun Online.
“I saw the press conference right after, and somebody had asked Elon Musk, “Hey, is anybody going to track this? Are you going to show us where it is?”
“He said ‘no, we’re not going to do that’, and I thought, well, maybe I can do that and started doing it”.
With all of the attention that the Roadster and Starman get, Ben is swarmed with messages
But he also receives flak from conspiracy theorists and flat earthers who have their own take on the matter.
“One person accused my simulation of what Starman would see as being CGI, which it was. If they seem well meaning I will talk with them, but I usually ignore them,” he said.
“Another fun conversation was the person who accused me of being Elon Musk.
“I was flattered, but I could not convince him otherwise”.
The WhereisRoadster creator is now working on creating a platform that visualises where all the asteroids and space junk is in space, on a new platform called Solar System Stuff.